Amber Rudd to scrap benefit reassessments for disabled pensioners in welfare shake-up
Disabled pensioners will no longer be forced to undertake reassessments of their health in order to claim disability benefits, Amber Rudd is to announce.
The Work and Pensions Secretary will say that ending the “unnecessary experience” of forcing retired Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants to have their awards regularly reviewed comes as part of a bid to “change the landscape” for disabled people in Britain.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says that around 270,000 disabled pensioners will be affected from spring of this year, when the move is to be rolled out.
Ms Rudd will say that the benefits system should be “the ally of disabled people”, following years of criticism of the regime brought in under the coalition government.
"People with disabilities and health conditions have enough challenges in life; so my ambition is to significantly improve how DWP supports disabled people and those with health conditions," she will say.
"Progress has been made, but we need to do more to close the gap between our intentions and disabled people’s experiences.
"The benefits system should be the ally of disabled people. It should protect them, and ensure that the assistance the Government provides arrives in the right place to those who need it most."
PIP, which can amount to around £145 per week, was brought in with the aim of helping disabled people with the extra costs they face and those with long-term health conditions.
Ms Rudd will cite living with her father’s blindness for 36 years as a motivation to make the changes.
“I reflected on my father’s lack of sight, and how it affected his life and the lives of those who loved him, as I considered my role in supporting disabled people in Britain,” she will say.
“Disabled pensioners have paid into our system for their whole lives and deserve the full support of the State when they need it most.
“This Government therefore intends to change the landscape for disabled people in Britain: to level the terrain and smooth their path.”
Under the new plans the Work Capability Assessment and the PIP assessment services will be joined into one assessment service.
Ms Rudd will also reveal plans to boost the Government’s aim off seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.
Mark Hodgkinson of disability equality charity Scope welcomed the changes, but called for a "more radical overhaul" of the system to better help disabled people.
"Disabled people also want to see action taken to scrap counterproductive benefit sanctions," he added.
"They make it harder for disabled people to get into work."